CIF Open Division Championship: Helix Highlanders 26, Mission Hills Grizzlies 19
Helix made it to the title game a season ago and lost. They were looking to complete unfinished business this season and, thanks to a hard nosed defense and a smash mouth offense, they won the Open Division title 26 to 19 over Mission Hills.
The game got off to a slow start with both defenses dominating. Mission Hills broke the gridlock with an Ezekeal Mata 19-yard field goal in the 1st quarter. It was a moral victory for Helix, however, because the Grizzlies had a first and goal from the 9 before settling for three points. Fatto Noa scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Highlanders a 6-3 lead. The extra point was blocked. Mission Hills had a 10-6 lead late in the first half when QB Carson Baker threw to Isaiah Wooden for a 31-yard touchdown with :30 left. They missed the 2-point conversion but still took a 12-10 lead into the locker room.
Mission Hills abandoned the run on their first drive of the second half and it worked. Jack Tuttle finished the drive with a 7-yard connection with Chris Olave to reclaim the lead 16-12. Helix then finished off their next drive with a Noa 1-yard touchdown run and a 19-16 lead. Early in the 4th quarter Mata kicked a 26-yard field goal to tie the game 19-19. With 9:17 left in the game Noa scored yet again on a 3-yard touchdown run. Helix led 26-19. The Grizzlies then went on a lengthy drive deep into Helix territory helped by two third down penalties; a personal foul and a pass interference. On 4th and 9 from the Highlander 13 Tuttle threw incomplete and Grizzlies never saw the ball again as Noa and the Helix offense ran out the final 4:42 to win the Open Division Title.
PREVIEW Every team enters a season with a goal in mind. One goal could be to finish better than the year before. Other teams may be looking to rebuild in order to set their programs up for future success. Lastly, there are teams that will not be content with a season unless they win a CIF title… I can tell you right now, the Mission Hills Grizzlies (12-0) and the Helix Highlanders (11-1) are two teams in that category!
In the 2017 season, the Mission Hills Grizzlies are undefeated behind their quarterback, and Silver Pigskin Finalist, Jack Tuttle. The last time the Grizzlies made a finals appearance was in 2013, whereby they defeated the Oceanside Pirates 36-14. En route to the championship, they had to pass through a competitive Helix team, who they wrestled down 24-21.
The 2017 season has been just a bit short of perfection for the Helix Highlanders. Their one loss was to the very impressive Paraclete Spirits, who finished their season 12-1, and will be playing the Moorpark Musketeers in the championship of the CIF Division 5 Southern Section.
As one may be aware, the Scotties were in this very same position last year. They entered the playoff bracket as the second seed, but ultimately fell short to the Cathedral Catholic Dons 35-27. Helix may have claimed revenge on the Dons when they defeated them earlier this season 39-0, but I am sure that is not enough for their head coach, Robbie Owens, and Silver Pigskin Finalist, Isaac Taylor-Stuart.
Just as last year’s CIF San Diego Section Open Division Championship game wired down to the 1 & 2 seeds, we are in for a similar treat in 2017. Many predicted this to be the matchup that we would see at the end; others have had their minds set on who they think will win. However, the only two paths to truly catch the outcome are by attending the game at Southwestern College located in Chula Vista, CA on Saturday, December 2, at 7 PM or by tuning-in for the All-Sports Report on KUSI at 10:45 PM later that night.